Ant & Dec will soon be back on our screens with a brand new series of Saturday Night Takeaway — and while they've had to make a few changes to the show because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they're still promising that it will be "the happiest 90 minutes of the week".
Last year's series was in the middle of its run when the pandemic hit, causing the lads to have to make some last-minute changes: one episode was done in the studio with no live audience, and the final two episodes of the series were hosted remotely from their homes.
This time around, they're all set to return to the studio and bring us a lockdown-compliant Saturday night spectacular. Here's what they had to say about what's in store...
Ant & Dec on having to adapt the show last year due to the pandemic...
Ant: "The live show without an audience was quite scary to do, because we've never done a Takeaway show without an audience before. It was kind of weird: we did the show without an audience, with a very limited crew, then we said goodbye to each other at the end of the show, got in our separate cars to go home, and didn't see each other again in person for months!"
Dec: "It was challenging — obviously it was the beginning of the pandemic so we were all trying to work out how to deal with it, what was allowed and what wasn't. The pandemic was getting worse so we knew we couldn't come in and do another show in the studio. We wanted to keep the show on the air so we decided, after years and years of the audience inviting us into their living rooms on a Saturday night, we'd turn it around and invite them into our living rooms!"
Ant & Dec on their plans for the new series
Dec: "We've got some brand-new stuff lined up, and we're really looking forward to getting back into the studio. We won't have a live audience, but we will have a brand-new virtual audience so we'll see lots of people at home having their Saturday night takeaway while the show is live. It'll look different, it'll feel different — we're just going to make the best show that we can under the circumstances, and give you hopefully still the happiest 90 minutes of the week."
Ant & Dec on how they plan to keep surprising their audience
Ant: "That is what we do on Takeaway — we surprise members of the public at home and in the audience. That's a constant throughout every series that we've done, and we want to make sure we continue to do that. We're currently looking at the technology, and how to make it the best that we can so we can still have that interaction with the viewers at home.
"We've always surprised people — whether at home, in their living rooms, in their place of work, on holiday, at weddings, we've always gone that extra mile. We're going to continue to do it, through the virtual wall, through Skype, etc. It's more challenging that way, but we're still going to do it because it's what Takeaway does best!
Nice try 😂 https://t.co/Gzmt7EdIaAFebruary 16, 2021
Ant & Dec on the stars they'll be instructing through earpieces in I'm A Celebrity, Get Out Of Me Ear!
Dec: "We've got some very funny ones in the new series. We've got Davina McCall making a new fitness app, which is obviously all made up by us. We've got Harry and Jamie Redknapp opening a new restaurant — Harry wants it to be a real East End café whilst Jamie wants it to be a more upmarket bistro, it's very funny."
Ant: "We've got our friend from I'm A Celebrity, Sir Mo Farah, doing one. One of the loudest and longest we've ever laughed was doing this one, because we also surprised Mo with..."
Dec: "Don't give any more away - let it be a surprise!"
Ant: "I've never laughed as much as I did that day. The thing about Mo is, as we all saw on I'm A Celebrity, he has this kind of crazy side which none of us knew about until then — so we kind of tapped into that and ran with it!"
Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway returns Saturday February 20 on ITV at 7pm .
Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com (opens in new tab), who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.
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